AASWSW logo color


Field Education Office Professional Development Workshop

BSW Cording & MSW Hooding

Stephanie Kripa Cooper-Lewter, PhD 

Making Change Happen

Stephanie-Kripa-Cooper-Lewter-ProfileYoung children who are adopted by US families from other countries often struggle with their personal identity well into adulthood. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter studied the dynamics of international adoption with an insider’s perspective. She was left in a cradle outside of Mother Teresa’s orphanage in India, and was then adopted and raised by a woman in rural Minnesota.

For her doctoral dissertation, Cooper-Lewter interviewed 20 adult women who had been adopted from eight countries by U.S. families before age three. Life history studies of international adoptees are rare. Cooper-Lewter’s research likely will expand understanding of the cultural and psycho-social forces at play for individuals adopted from other countries.

“Part of the journey that many adoptees go through involves seeking answers to multiple questions like ‘How do I make sense of why I was chosen—among those who were left behind,’” Cooper-Lewter says. “Adoption is a lifelong journey; it’s not a one-time event.”

Cooper-Lewter wants to further study the impact of adoption to foster resilience and well-being and explore identity development among multiethnic individuals, immigrants, and those who are internationally adopted. Cooper-Lewter states, “Social work resonates with me because I value listening to the voices of others, knowing that the circumstances they face today do not define who they will become.”

Research Interests

Transnational Adoption, Multi-Ethnic Families, Identity, Immigration, International Social Work, Resilience, Leadership, Service, & Diversity

Dissertation Title

Identity Journeys: Life Stories of Women Adopted Transnationally as Children

Publications and Presentations

Cooper-Lewter, Stephanie & Cooper-Lewter, Courtney (August 2012 – Kindle Edition). Beautiful. In Chau, A. & Ost-Vollmers, K. (Eds.), Parenting as Adoptees. CQT Media & Publishing and LGA, Inc. 

July 21, 2012, Co-Presenter, North American Council on Adoptable Children, “Beyond Panels: Adopted Persons as Professionals,” with JaeRan Kim, Susan Branco Alvarado and Paula O’Lauglin, Washington, District of Columbia.

February 18, 2011, Symposium Presenter, 40th Annual Meeting of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research, “Reconstructing Who I Am: Life Stories of Transnationally Adopted Women in Young Adulthood,” Charleston, South Carolina.

October 15, 2010, Paper Presentation, St. John’s University, “Disrupting Dichotomous Discourse through Autoethnography,” Manhattan, New York.

March 25, 2009, Panel Member, Joint Council on International Children’s Services, “So How Did We Get Here? Exploring the Impact of Adult Adoptees on Intercountry Adoption Practice,” 2009 Inaugural Adult Adoptee Institute, “We’re Not Orphans Anymore,” Indianapolis, Indiana .

April 12, 2007, Lead Presenter, Joint Council on International Children’s Services, “The Significance of Relationships and Connections: Supporting Adopted Youth in their Transition to Adulthood,” 2007 Medical Institute and Conference: Building Bridges for Children – Navigating the Waters of Change in Intercountry Adoption, San Antonio, Texas.

Other Activities or Awards

2010 – 2011, Hull Fellow, Southeastern Council of Foundations, Atlanta, Georgia.

2007, Centennial Fellow, Graduate School, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

2004 – 2007, Minority Fellowship Program, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and awarded by the Council on Social Work Education, Alexandria, Virginia.

1998 – 1999, MSW Title IV-E Child Welfare Scholar, Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, University of Minnesota, School of Social Work, College of Human Ecology, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Spring 2007 - Designed and Taught University-Approved New Social Work Graduate Course, SOWK 768 – Seminar in Social Work: International Social Work and Social Justice Issues Graduate Course.

Fall 2006, Designed and Taught University-Approved New Social Work Undergraduate Course, SOWK 307 – International Social Work and Social Justice Issues Undergraduate Course.

2005, 2006, Recognition for Outstanding Contribution to Student Development, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

May 2005, Hooder for the M.S.W. Class of 2005, College of Social Work, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, First Ph.D. Student in history of College of Social Work selected by students as Hooder for M.S.W. graduation program in recognition for outstanding teaching.  


#USCCOSW Latest Tweets

© 2018 University of South Carolina Board of Trustees | Privacy Policy